Clinton Will Testify In Lewinsky Inquiry
Linda Tripp finishes testimony, breaks her silence
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 29) -- President Bill Clinton has agreed to provide testimony for Independent Counsel Ken Starr's grand jury as it continues its probe of the sex-and-perjury allegations against the president. The president's lawyer, David Kendall, announced Wednesday that Clinton will submit to questioning on Aug. 17 at the White House. The testimony will be videotaped and Clinton's lawyers will be present for the questioning.
"In an effort to achieve a prompt resolution of this entire matter the president will voluntarily provide his testimony on August 17, 1998 to the Office of Independent Counsel, as he has on prior occasions," Kendall said.
The White House also acknowledged the president did receive a subpoena on July 17 to appear before the grand jury, which the White House had until now refused to confirm. Now that the lawyers have reached an agreement for the president to voluntarily testify, that subpoena has been withdrawn.
Sources are also telling CNN that the president's testimony will come after Monica Lewinsky, a former White House intern, begins her appearance at the grand jury.
The deal between Kendall and Starr also stipulates there will only be one day of questioning at the White House.
Tripp speaks out -- but takes no questions
Linda Tripp|| |
Shortly after Kendall announced the agreement with Starr, Linda Tripp -- the woman who started the entire Lewinsky investigation by giving the independent counsel 20 hours of secretly recorded phone conversation with Lewinsky -- finally broke her six months of silence.
Flanked by her lawyers, her spokesman and her children, a nervous, shaking Tripp made her first public statement.
"I've just completed my testimony before the federal grand jury ... while I am relived that the testimony has come to an end, I'm glad to have fulfilled my legal obligation," Tripp said. "I am encouraged that it appears from press reports that Monica has decided to cooperate with the independent counsel. The facts will show that time after time I urged her to tell the truth right up until the end."
Tripp said fear motivated her to turn to Starr for help.
"I became aware between 1993 and 1997 of actions by high government officials that may have been against the law," she said. "For that period of nearly five years, the things I witnessed concerning several different subjects made me increasingly fearful that this information was dangerous, very dangerous to possess.
"On January 12, 1998, the day I approached the Office of the Independent Counsel, I decided that fear would no longer be my master," Tripp said. "This investigation have never been, quote, 'just about sex.' It has been about telling the truth. The truth matters."
Tripp reiterated she had nothing to do with the so-called "talking points," a typewritten document that suggested Tripp lie in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit against Clinton. Tripp also pleaded with reporters, the entertainment industry which she claimed unfairly ridicules her appearance and the American people, to try and understand her position.
"I ask you to imagine how you would feel if someone you thought was a friend urged you to commit a felony that could jeopardize your job, potentially put you in jail and endanger the well being of your children," Tripp said.
"Imagine how you would feel if you boss' attorney called you a liar in front of the whole country and imagine if that boss was the president of the United States. Imagine how you would feel if your employer illegally released your confidential records to the media, then demoted you and cast you aside for daring to tell the truth," the former White House aide, now a Pentagon employee, said.
Lindsey at federal courthouse
Presidential confidant Bruce Lindsey also made an appearance at the federal courthouse Wednesday afternoon. A three-judge appeals court panel ruled Monday that since Lindsey was a government lawyer and not the president's private attorney, he did not enjoy an attorney-client privilege with Clinton.
During his previous appearances before the Lewinsky grand jury, Lindsey had claimed that an attorney-client privilege prevented him from answering some of Starr's question about conversations with the president.
According to sources, Lewinsky is prepared to testify that she and Clinton discussed how to conceal their alleged sexual relationship.
Lewinsky's account to Starr's prosecutors is that "she and the president were talking about cover stories for their relationship, as two people in such situations frequently do; how to keep it secret," one source said Tuesday.
Two sources, an attorney and another person familiar with Lewinsky's conversations with prosecutors, also say Lewinsky claims she wrote the so-called "talking points" she gave Tripp. Lewinsky says she penned the document after conversations with Tripp, sources say.
In Lewinsky's upcoming appearance before Starr's grand jury,
the former White House intern is not expected to accuse the
president of directly urging her to lie about their
relationship under oath.
But sources tell CNN she will provide information that could
help Starr build a circumstantial case of obstruction of
justice against Clinton. For example, Lewinsky is expected
- Say she and the president discussed hypothetical questions
she might be asked and possible answers designed to conceal
- Confirm the president told her that if she moved to New
York, she might not have to testify in the Jones case.
- Say she and the president agreed that one way to explain
her frequent visits to the White House Oval Office would be
to say she was going to see presidential secretary and friend
- Confirm the president told her to return gifts he gave her
by turning them over to Currie. The assumption is that if
the gifts were not in Lewinsky's possession, they could not
be subpoenaed. The gifts were returned.
Several sources close to Clinton's legal team say the president plans to stick to his denial of a sexual relationship, no matter what the former White House intern says.
Starr won Lewinsky's cooperation while trying to enforce a subpoena or negotiate an arrangement for Clinton's own testimony.
A source close to the investigation says Starr is well aware his new star witness has a credibility problem. She has previously denied under oath any sexual relationship with the president.
That, the source says, is why Starr is building a meticulous documentary case of her White House visits and interactions with Clinton, including sending him letters and gifts. Starr hopes to bolster Lewinsky's credibility by proving that the rest of her story checks out, the source says.
White House aides have seized on Lewinsky's account of the "talking points" as good news, suggesting it proved the president and his lieutenants had nothing to do with the most obvious physical evidence of an effort to influence testimony in the Jones case.
But many allies of the president also reacted anxiously to word of
Lewinsky's cooperation with prosecutors.
"It means we get asked a lot of the same questions over and over again. At a minimum it is more distraction at a much higher volume," one senior official said.
Senators urge Starr to 'wrap it up'
Sen. Patrick Leahy
Two leading members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Wednesday they hope Starr's investigation will conclude by the end of the summer.
"It's got to be more than just alleged sexual peccadilloes
in the White House, and frankly all of us would like to get this
over with," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the committee's chairman. "I'd be surprised if Ken Starr would allow this to go well into September."
"Wrap this sucker up," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said at a joint news conference with Hatch. "After spending 40 million dollars, after
requiring a lot of innocent bystanders to spend millions of dollars of their
own money on legal fees, either wrap it up and send it to the Congress or go
CNN's Wolf Blitzer and John King contributed to this report.